|Founders||Arron Banks, Richard Tice|
|Purpose||United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union|
|Headquarters||Millbank Tower, London|
|88,012 (April 2017)|
|Part of a series of articles on the|
Leave.EU is an organisation that campaigned for Brexit in the June 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. Founded in July 2015 as The Know, the campaign was relaunched in September with its present name to reflect altered wording in the referendum question.
The following month, the campaign announced it had registered the support of over 270,000 people, including over 1,000 local councillors from all major political parties. In February 2016 the campaign announced that it had over 500,000 supporters.
The campaign, along with rival organisation Vote Leave, aimed to be formally designated as the lead campaign for the Leave vote by the Electoral Commission; however, on 13 April 2016, Vote Leave was designated by the Electoral Commission as the official campaign in favour of leaving the European Union for the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016.
The campaign was co founded by Bristol-based businessman and UKIP donor Arron Banks, with property entrepreneur Richard Tice. It initially set about bringing together a range of different Eurosceptic groups under the umbrella of The Know. Banks stated a belief that the campaign could not be won from within the Westminster Bubble and that he would build a 'truly cross party campaign for the people and not dominated by politicians.'
As the campaign was being renamed Leave.EU, UKIP leader Nigel Farage gave a public endorsement at the party's annual conference in Doncaster. Farage later clarified that he backed both Leave campaigns as they targeted 'different audiences.'
The campaign was then reportedly refused access to the Conservative annual conference and the TUC annual congress, while being allowed to attend the Labour and Liberal Democrat conferences. American political strategy firm Goddard Gunster was appointed for its expertise in winning referendums. In November 2015, Banks wrote to the Vote Leave group proposing that the two groups should merge. He cited his concern that having two rival Eurosceptic groups was damaging the chances of a campaign victory.
When rival organisation Vote Leave was designated by the Electoral Commission on 13 April 2016 as the official referendum campaign in favour of leaving the EU, Andy Wigmore said that Leave.EU would apply for a judicial review of the decision. He suggested that the referendum could be delayed until 23 October 2016 while the review took place.
However, the next day (14 April 2016), chairman Arron Banks announced that Leave.EU would not be pursuing the judicial review any further. While the campaign states that "according to legal experts" it is clear they would win, they have decided that it is time to turn their focus fully towards "the real opponents in this campaign: those who are repeatedly trying to scare the British public".
The group remains active, publishing independently of the other campaigns, with Vote Leave focusing on economic benefits in terms of FDI and trade while Leave.EU centring its argument on immigration and how free movement of people across EU and UK has supposedly led to decreased jobs and wages. This has led to situations where Vote Leave and Leave.EU statements have contradicted each other, and sometimes to direct attacks by one pro Brexit group against the other.
After Nigel Farage was not included in a referendum debate, Leave.EU retaliated by publishing the private contact details of BBC officials and Vote Leave members including UKIP MP Douglas Carswell and former UKIP deputy Suzanne Evans.
On 21 April 2017, the Electoral Commission announced that it had launched an investigation into the electoral spending of the campaign group at the EU Referendum, saying that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that potential offences may have been committed. The investigation will focus on whether impermissible donations were taken and whether the group's spending return was complete. Arron Banks said the group "...will be vigorously defending" the allegations.
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